Wilding Photographic Ltd, which runs seven independent camera shops across the North West, has been put into liquidation with the loss of 24 jobs, Amateur Photographer understands.

The firm blamed ‘crippling’ rents at several of the stores as a key factor in the demise of the 63-year-old business.

Chris Lea, one of the directors, said: ‘Over a three-year period, rent at the Wilmslow shop doubled.’

He said the firm had been put into ‘voluntary liquidation’ and that the economic climate had also played a part in the closures, as well as competition from internet retailers.

‘I wouldn’t say it was inevitable. It’s been tough on the high street for two or three years. Since Christmas it’s been particularly bad.’

Lea added that 24 staff across the group have been made redundant, though five will be re-employed.

Wildings – which is based in Wigan – also operates a postal and mail-order firm, buyacamera.co.uk, owned by the same directors as a separate business in Standish, Lancashire. This will continue to trade.

AP understands that the Chorley branch is set to re-open tomorrow, and there is a possibility that two other stores will be saved.

However, details of who will run any surviving shops – and the trading name – have yet to be disclosed.

Five staff will be re-employed at the re-opened Chorley store and at buyacamera.co.uk, said Lea.

The firm, which trades as Wildings, started life in 1948 as a commercial studio.

It began selling photographic gear in 1960.

Priding itself on the quality of its advice and service Wildings ran camera stores in Bolton, Chorley, Macclesfield, Manchester, Northwich, Wigan and Wilmslow.

Services offered by Wildings included camera repairs, passport photos, canvas prints and photo restoration.

Manchester-based insolvency practitioners MCR, which is helping to wind up the company, declined to comment on the precise status of the firm as we went to press.

It has requested that all creditors and customers direct any queries to MCR, The Chancery, 58 Spring Gardens, Manchester M2 1EW. Tel: 0161 827 9000.